China’s One-Child Policy: Regional Regulation Variation & the Sex-Ratio at Birth

Stanford Undergraduate Honors Thesis in Economics

Since the enactment of the one-child policy, the sex ratio at birth has risen above normal values throughout China. To combat this problem, regional governments have derived their own one-child regulations to suit local needs. This study uses a two-stage least squares model and a sample of the thirty-one provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions to examine relationship among regional one-child regulations, the sex ratio at birth, and regional characteristics. The results show that socioeconomic development is not a main factor in determining the strength of regional policies or the sex ratio at birth. Rather, political and cultural autonomy seem to be significant factors for both the sex ratio at birth and regulation strength. Furthermore, after controlling for socioeconomic, political, and cultural traits, policy strength explains little about a region’s sex ratio at birth.
  • Researcher


9 Months



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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature Review
    2.1 The rise of the Sex Ratio at Birth
    2.2 Fertility Decline
    2.3 One-Child Policy Variation
  3. Data & Methods
    3.1 Statistical Sources
    3.2 Rating the Strength of Regulations
    3.3 Statistical Methods
  4. Empirical Results
    4.1 Statistical Tests
    4.2 Two Stage Least Squares Model
  5. Conclusion
    5.1 Regulations
    5.2 Regional Characteristics
    5.3 Implications
  6. Appendix
    Appendix A: Regulation Scores
    Appendix B: Factor Reduction
    Appendix C: Correlations within Regulations

Special Thanks

Special thanks to Professor Geoffrey S. Rothwell and my advisor, Professor Paul A. David for their guidance and support; to the Undergraduate Research Program and the donors of my Undergraduate Research Opportunity Grant for providing me the resources to work in Beijing; and to the China Population Information & Research Center and the Institute of Population Research for helping me gather data was otherwise unattainable.